Korea, Long-Distance Walking, USA
Comments 22

Midnight Goatboy

Well, what can I say, people, you missed the Christmas party of the century here in swinging downtown Yulha…

mmm

Xmas, right after the waffle & before the cops arrived to quieten things down

..and now it’s my solemn duty to inform you that most of you are going to miss my New York wedding.

Oops! Not my wedding, my friends’ wedding! Sorry, slip of the hooves!

mmm

With then-new pals Dude (obscured, L), Trouble, Fidgit & Rif-Raf (Granite & Terrapin in cab)  heading back to the PCT from Wrightwood

Yes, I’m off on today for New York, my fifth visit to the States, via a night in Shanghai. Yes, the same New York some LETHAL BLIZZARDS are working their way towards to greet me. Apart from walking through the state on the Appalachian Trail, I’ve had two brief encounters with the Big Apple: a couple of days with a woman I was briefly embrangled with after busting my legs on the A.T. in 2004 (we did a punk rock pilgrimage and spent a night in the famed Chelsea Hotel), and a half-day thru-hike of Central Park in 2006 before I jumped on a train to head back to the Trail for Part 2…

But this one is going to be the best yet. All going well, I arrive at JFK on Sunday afternoon, and will then be whisked upstate to the home of The Dude & Trouble. Their wedding is the following day, New Year’s Eve, at a girls’ camp in the Adirondack Mountains.

Snow, mountains, cold, possible blizzards — as the immortal Bill Idol once snarled, “Nice day for a white wedding.” But it’s nothing for these snow bunnies. Here they are the day after I met them, near the top of Mt Baden Powell (2,867m). This is how I imagine their wedding, only with 100mph winds and hunks of pine tree flying through the air:

The soon-to-be newlyweds ascending Baden Powell

The soon-to-be newlyweds ascending Baden Powell

The wedding will also be a big hiker catch-up with some good friends from the Pacific Crest Trail, flying in from all over America. There are disturbing rumours of a POLAR BEAR SWIM in a frozen lake the next morning, plus perhaps a MOUNTAIN HIKE. As Trouble said to me recently, “Some people might think it weird that we are going to share our honeymoon with a bunch of friends, but these are the same people that think it’s weird that we like to camp on the snow.”

F______ weirdos. But let me tell you how we met.

2010. The Pacific Crest Trail, Mexico to Canada. It was a hard hike for me. I struggled with lethargy and wavering purpose in the second thousand miles, the high mountains, the snow, the cold. Swore I’d quit half a dozen times; someone would talk me round. What the hell. I had a girlfriend at the time waiting in Switzerland, and wasn’t too upset about quitting. Loser lands in Switzerland, great girlfriend: could be worse. I was distracted.

Dude & Granite before climbing Mt Baden Powell

Dude & Granite before climbing Mt Baden Powell

I met Trouble, from Upstate N.Y., as I waited for a ride into Wrightwood, CA. Soon I met more of her gang: Dude, her partner, and Granite & Terrapin, another couple; plus Fidgit and Rif-Raf and a French expat called Frog. They were supposed to be leaving town but they ended up going back in (crap weather); we crashed at trail angels’ homes, ate pizza, got drunk. That was the first time I’d ever re-supplied for the next leg while totally hammered. I hope it’s not the last.

Dude & Granite

Dude & Granite

Next day I found myself leaving town with my new friends, climbing Mt Baden Powell straight up the side since the path was buried anyway…and that’s how it all began. Granite had a GPS, immensely useful in that season of unmarked paths. I had little to offer but my sparkling repartee.

Here’s our fuzzy summit shot:

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Anyway, I hung with that gang a few days. We were still in the desert, which I loved. I was far more at home in the heat than the others. Here we are road-walking:

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And yet more road-walking:

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A discussion:

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And a breakfast feast in Agua Dulce, CA:

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Much whooping when we reached the 500-mile mark:

Celebratory nips from my plastic flask

Celebratory nips from my plastic flask

My chronology’s a bit skewed, but the group fragmented soon after.  I arrived pretty much solo at Kennedy Meadows, doorstep of the High Sierra…started out with most of them three days later…we got separated…I got stuck with this other guy…met Fidgit again at Lone Pine…ditched the guy…started out with Fidge and her friend Ann…Ann had second thoughts (badass mountains, lots of snow)…Fidge had to hike out with her…I joined a bloke from Washington State and his Japanese friend…we did the Sierra’s nasty high passes together with no rapport whatsoever…I hated, hated, HATED the Sierra…

Ann & Fidgit

Ann & Fidgit

Umpteen near-quits later I was persuaded to stay on the Trail by Granite & Terrapin. We left Old Station, CA, hiked through Oregon to the Washington border together…shared some adventures and some hypothermia…and I split the PCT and the country there and bailed for Switzerland.

With Terrapin, Granite & legendary multiple thru-hiker Billy Goat, somewhere in the woods

With Terrapin, Granite & legendary multiple thru-hiker Billy Goat, somewhere in the woods

G & T were great company and thoughtful compadres. A couple of their notes:

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So anyway, the adventure continues. A few days upstate and then I’ll be heading to NYC for a week or so of walking, eating, shopping, music and literature pilgrimage, history, coffee, photography, and catch-ups with at least a couple of mates from the A.T. and P.C.T. As the song says, (change pouring rain to driving snow)…

I’m going where the sun keeps shining, thru’ the pouring rain, going where the weather suits my clothes…

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote

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22 Comments

    • Sorry for my belated reply, Sue. I’ve been enjoying being unplugged from the grid – the wedding was incredible, the good times roll on…

  1. Ah, lovely. It all sounds great! They’re great photos up in the snow, although I’m not sure how your feet felt wearing runners in the white stuff?! See you in the online world in 2013!

    • All the best for a great 2013, Greg! I know there’ll be adventures galore in store for us both, more than enough to keep us blogging contentedly. You’ll be happy to know I’m wearing BOOTS in the snow here – they attach much better to snowshoes!

  2. Bill Murray says

    This is GREAT …. thanks for it all GOAT and friends …. I only wish we had hads more time to really talk about what you kids endured on the PCT … We’ve heard “Trouble’s nad Dude’s ” version …. I do know,, that kate treasure’s the friendship of you all …. And as you know, once a friend of her’s …. you are a friend forever ……God bless , and a safe trip home …..
    ….. Trouble’s father ; DUDE’s In-Law …… IT WAS a GREAT Wedding ……

    • No, thank YOU, sir, for the gift of Trouble! That was the best wedding I’ve ever attended and I really enjoyed meeting the family and reuniting with old friends as well as making new ones.

  3. Bill Murray says

    Wel I have to say this …a a full blooded Irishman ” my yo be in Heaven 3 day’s before the Devel knows you’re dead.” … god bless , safe trip … and I hope we all meet again some day.

  4. Wow! Traveling from Korea to a wedding in the new year in the state of New York. That’s mind-altering in the best possible way.

    Love the photo at the 500-mile mark with the words in the background, “There are no strangers here, only friends who have not yet met.”

    “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends”
    (William Butler Yeats)

    Splendid way to start the new year!

    • That’s a terrific quote from Mr Yeats, Am. Thanks. Yes, I arrived here in a pleasant near-delirium, and after several excellent days and nights, I see no end to that state as yet. Happy New Year to you!

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